Wednesday 13 December 2017

Poor maths and science trend continues in exam results

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

The trend of worryingly poor maths and science results has continued in this year's Leaving Certificate as 57,500 students receive their exam results today.

Large numbers have performed below par in the two fields, with more than 4,500 pupils failing maths and just 16pc of pupils sitting the higher level paper, automatically excluding themselves from many third-level courses linked to the subject.

Another 12.8pc of pupils failed the ordinary level paper in chemistry and 8.6pc did not pass its honour paper - raising concerns over the focus on Ireland's smart economy.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) said the results obtained in most subjects followed patterns broadly similar to those of previous years.

However Education Minister Ruairi Quinn admitted work must be done to increase the numbers of students taking higher level maths through the new Project Maths syllabus, to be rolled out in September.

"I am hopeful that the continued roll-out of Project Maths and also the 25 bonus points which will be introduced for next year's Leaving Certificate students will improve these figures," he said.

"There are some young people today who will be disappointed with their results.

"I would appeal to these students and their families to seriously consider repeating their exams. You are not a failure if you decide to give it a go again and it certainly is not a wasted year.

"If this one year gives you the opportunity to attack the exams afresh and achieve the third level course you have your heart set on, then it is certainly worth it."

The overall number of pupils sitting the State exam fell marginally to 57,532 this year and included 2,947 repeat candidates.

Figures showed:

:: Just 8,237 pupils sat higher level maths - down 153 - with only 470 top achievers securing an A1 grade. That's 5.7pc this year compared with 7.5pc in 2010. Another 255 students failed the exam.

:: Of 37,505 who took the ordinary level maths paper 4.1pc got an A1 - down from 4.5pc - and 9.9pc failed, slightly up on 2010. Another 437 failed the foundation paper.

:: Just 715 budding scientists secured an A1 in honours chemistry, with 426 making the top grade in physics and 1,429 getting it in biology.

:: Of 14,359 who sat higher level Irish, 790 (5.5pc) secured an A1 and 144 (1pc) failed the paper. Meanwhile 25,220 sat the ordinary level paper, with 1,311 failing it.

:: In English, 426 failed the higher level paper - 1.3pc of the 32,783 who sat it - and 523 (2.8pc) failed the ordinary level paper - but the number of A1s on both papers were up marginally.

:: The number of pupils taking accounting, business and economics fell, while those sitting engineering and construction studies remained broadly the same.

:: There was a significant increase in those who sat 15 non-curricular languages - from Dutch, Portuguese and Romanian to the tongue of the EU accession states - from 1,050 in 2010 to 1,262.

:: Elsewhere the pilot project maths initiative, which will be brought in nationwide in September, was taken by 1,984 pupils in 24 schools.

Business group Ibec demanded continuing plans to reform the second-level maths curriculum are adequately funded and receive the full support of the education system to ensure students develop the necessary skills to work in high tech sectors.

Tony Donohoe, head of education policy, said: "Maths fluency is vitally important to the educational and economic well-being of the country. Maths concepts and techniques are central to working in high tech industries, which continue to perform strongly and create jobs.

"Less than 16pc of the 51,991 students that sat leaving certificate maths took the higher level paper. This is down from a high of 18.9pc in 2005 and is significantly out of line with other subjects.

"By not sitting the honours paper, most students have automatically excluded themselves from many science, engineering and technology third-level courses."

Helplines, staffed by guidance counsellors, will open on 1800 265 165 and 1800 946 942 as results are collected in schools around the country, by telephone and online.

Richard Langford, SEC chairman, said: "This is the outcome of many years of hard work on the part of the students and not only reflects the dedication of the candidates but is also a tribute to the support and encouragement given by parents and teachers.

"In difficult economic times these results can be a gateway for our young people to further and higher education or training and employment opportunities. I wish all of you well as you go on to further studies or seek employment."

Promoted Links

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in Life